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Intersection of art history and tech topic of Milstein lecture

C. Richard Johnson

C. Richard Johnson will speak about the field of computational art history and discuss preserving and authenticating the works of Vermeer and Rembrandt Friday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m. in the Guerlac Room of A.D. White House, followed by a buffet dinner. His talk, “Studying Vermeer’s Canvases and Rembrandt’s Papers: Two Examples of Computational Art History,” is part of the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity Speaker Series.

Johnson, the Geoffrey S.M. Hedrick Senior Professor of Engineering at Cornell and the fellow in computational arts and humanities at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, has been on the faculty since 1981 and joined Cornell Tech in 2016. He has worked as a scientific researcher at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and as computational art history adviser to the Netherlands Institute for Art History in the Hague.

Cornell Engineering Professor Rick Johnson uses scientific tools such as x-rays and algorithms to analyze priceless works of art at museums including the Met and MoMA. Cornell University has been a part of the fabric of New York City for more than 100 years. Cornell alumni in NYC are leaders in the areas of business and finance, art and culture, science, healthcare, law, public service, media, tech, fashion, hospitality, cuisine, and more

Johnson has been at the forefront of the field of computational art history. He has innovated the way in which art historians count the number of threads in a canvas by using a digital signal to search for patterns, resulting in the authentication of Van Gogh, Vermeer and Velazquez paintings.

Johnson will meet with Milstein Program students to talk about applied mathematics techniques to gather information that is extending the scholarly reach of art historians and creating new knowledge.

The Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity, launched in 2017 with a $20 million gift from the Milstein Family Foundation, is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell Tech. The first undergraduate link between the Ithaca and Roosevelt Island campuses, it offers a multidisciplinary experience by combining a liberal arts education in Ithaca with cutting-edge programs and courses at the graduate campus in New York City.

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Lindsey Hadlock